Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: Father Ron Gillis

Listening to people’s hearts
Fr. Ron Gillis provides spiritual direction for many
By Lisa Socarras | For the Catholic Herald
Lisa Socarras | For the Catholic Herald
Fr. Ron Gillis

Born and raised in Boston, Father Ron Gillis calls 1967 the year of “The Impossible Dream” because the Red Sox won the American League Pennant and because the youngest of eight children in the Gillis household was ordained to the priesthood.

“My father was in seventh heaven,” he said, reflecting on his vocation. “I regard it as a miracle, the whole expectation that you could be called by God to give everything. I looked at the crucifix and said, ‘Lord, You did all that for me. What should I be willing to do for You?’”

Today, 44 years later, Father Gillis serves as chaplain at both the Reston Study Center and Oakcrest School in McLean, and as a spiritual director at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., a position he has held for the past 30 years. Some years, he has given ongoing spiritual direction to more than 40 seminarians, driving twice a week from Northern Virginia to listen, advise and guide those in priestly formation.

As an Opus Dei priest working in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 38 years, Father Gillis has administered the sacraments, taught courses, preached, and provided spiritual direction and evenings of recollection for hundreds of married men and women as well as students. He always has been selfless and ready to help others on their personal path to sanctity, part of the universal call to holiness.

Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church, was founded in Spain in 1928 by St. Josemaría Escrivá, who taught that work and the circumstances of ordinary life are occasions for growing closer to God, serving others and for improving society.

Even as a young man, Father Gillis had a strong sense of purpose for his life and never had any doubts about his vocation.

“It was impossible to grow up in Catholic Boston and not have a strong sense of vocation because vocations were abundant,” he said. “It was a very common question for Catholic young people to ask, ‘What is my vocation?’”

“We were surrounded by the Faith and by the sense of dedication, also present in our parents, who raised large families. They were working-class people, very committed to the Faith,” said Father Gillis.

He attended Catholic elementary and secondary school where his teachers sensed he had a vocation to the priesthood.

“The nuns were after me in the eighth grade to go away to junior seminary,” he said, adding that he was not ready at that young age to make the commitment.

Later, while a junior in high school, Father Gillis said a friend “dragged me along” on a retreat at a Trappist monastery and it made a profound impact on him.

“It was in August and it was the feast of St. Bernard,” he said. “I always remember that it was like going to heaven. It was so beautiful, the peacefulness, the spirituality, the whole thing was magnificent, the Divine Office, the Liturgy. Then we were helping to make the hay with the monks. The silence, I remember thinking this is really the peace of God. This is really wonderful, but I don’t want to stay here.”

He asked himself how one could bring this sense of the presence of God into the midst of the world.

“I don’t have a monastic vocation. I like being in the middle of the world. When I encountered Opus Dei, that’s what happened. I saw that these people are involved in things, but they take spirituality very seriously. I was struck by this kind of formula that we need to bring Our Lord to so many people who are good people who live in the middle of the world,” Father Gillis said.

Following his freshman year of college at the University of Toronto, he became a member of Opus Dei and then transferred to Boston University because there was no Opus Dei center in Toronto. After earning a bachelor’s in history, he went to Rome in 1964 to study for the priesthood as a seminarian at the Roman College of the Holy Cross. While in Rome, he had the opportunity to learn from St. Josemaría Escriva himself.

“He was a great coach and a tremendous leader of men,” said Father Gillis. “As the founder, he was strong and enormously affectionate.”

He instilled in the seminarians that the only thing that really matters is personal sanctity, that we be saints. Always ready to admit his own challenges, the saint taught that determination to persevere, even in times of tremendous trial, is the journey of the soul toward holiness. To begin again is man’s goal because of our fallen nature we will have failings.

“The spirit of St. Josemaría is that the important thing is the struggle,” said Father Gillis. “The struggle is the sign of holiness. A saint is a sinner that keeps trying.”

In 1966, Father Gillis went to Pamplona, Spain, to continue his studies. After his ordination in Segovia, Spain, in 1967, he went on to earn a doctorate in cannon law in 1969 and returned to the United States.

“I went to Rome in 1964 to study, just after the Beatles had appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’” he said. “I remember thinking this music is the most fantastic but it’s immoral for them to wear their hair that long. Everybody had their hair buzz cut. Then when I came back after being away for five years, in 1969, I like to tell people it looked like everybody had their fingers in an electrical socket, a complete change,” he laughed.

He worked in New York and Boston until 1972 when he was assigned to the Washington area, which has been his home, except for one year that he spent in Pittsburgh. In 2005, he became a resident chaplain of the newly built Reston Study Center, which is an educational center dedicated to the character development of students and professional men.

He reflected on his role as a priest over the years and the Church.

“I have lived through these tumultuous years, coming from that period of total solidity in terms of structure and stability of the Church, to live in the tumultuous times of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” Father Gillis said. “It has been a unique experience, an adventure to see how basically a revolution occurred, not just in the Church.”

He said that prayer is the answer to solving all of life’s challenges.

“Prayer is the only weapon we have. The Church will rise up when we get on our knees,” Father Gillis said.

God is never far from us, He is with us in our ordinary, daily life.

“God has chosen the low road, the way of Bethlehem and Nazareth, instead of the high road. He came in through the back door, in the real world,” Father Gillis said. “As St. Josemaría said, ‘If you don’t find God in the real world, then you don’t find Him at all.’”

In November 2010, Father Gillis was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. He is currently undergoing treatments, the success of which he attributes to the prayers of many. Through it all he continues the work and spiritual direction that he loves. “The Holy Spirit works through you,” he said. “The most important thing that a spiritual director does is to listen to people’s hearts. You have to love people.”

Source: Arlington Catholic Herald. Socarras is a freelance writer from Annandale.

Find out more

For more information about Opus Dei, go to opusdei.org.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homily for Nativity of the Lord. "Christmas every Sunday": the Lord seeks to be born into our lives through the Eucharist at Sunday Mass each week

Merry Christmas!

I must begin my remarks by sharing a confession with all of you: our church does not look this beautiful every Sunday! I do not speak of the decorations which beautifully announce our joy on this occasion when we celebrate the birth of the Child Jesus at Bethlehem. I am speaking about all of you, the people of God who fill and make beautiful the Lord's house which exists for your sakes, for the purpose of providing for your own meeting with Jesus at Christmas and every Sunday.

You are God's people through the grace of Baptism and your presence here which glorifies God beautifully praises His goodness and love and is a true Christmas gift to me, your priest, for which I thank and praise Him.

In our Mass this evening we also keep the Lord's Day holy together because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Here we are, together on a Sunday, perhaps to realize also as God's gift that we can indeed overcome the many things of daily life that sometimes seem to prevent us from making room for God here at Mass and in other ways!

For the full text of the homily please visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Child's Prayer for Christmas: "Happy Birthday Jesus"


Happy Birthday, Jesus!

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! We are happy because today we celebrate your birth in Bethlehem many years ago. You have a birthday today, just like we each have our own birthdays.

We thank you that you came from heaven to earth to be born just for us. Thank you for all you did for us when you were here with us. You taught us how to love God our Father in heaven and to obey His will. You taught us to love each other: help us to remember to be more loving. You taught us how to do the right thing: remind us that you are with us, even when we think no one is looking.

We thank you for growing up to be our Savior and dying on the Cross for our sins. We thank you that you rose again and went to heaven, opening a way so we can go there too, someday.

Thank you for the gift of the Church and for your Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

Thank you for our parents who love us so much and for all our family and friends.

Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Archbishop Broglio's Christmas Letter

Dear Friend of Church and Military,

Fall colors in the Washington area have vanished and the bleak signs of winter are appearing. Of course, that means that the holy season of Christmas is quickly approaching. The traditions surrounding our annual celebration of the Savior’s birth fill us with joy and a deep longing for that peace announced by the angels.

Parishes plan penance services and other activities, families gather, office personnel celebrates, and friends and neighbors decorate their houses and host parties. The birth of absolute Goodness, the Incarnation of the Son of God, reminds men and women that we are all brothers and sisters, children of God our heavenly Father.

Of course, for the men and women in uniform who serve our Country at home and abroad, holiday time is special, but my heart goes out to those who are deployed far from home and the warmth of their families.

I will spend Christmas with those stationed in Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan and perhaps in the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis. Bishop Higgins will remain in the nation’s capital to celebrate Christmas at the installations of the Military District of Washington and at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Bishop Spencer will bring the joyful news of the Savior’s birth to those in Afghanistan. Bishop Buckon will celebrate these holy days with soldiers and their families at Fort Stewart, Georgia—home of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Thank you for making those pastoral visits possible. My flight to and from the Middle East will cost $2,500. Your generosity makes a difference. You allow us to fly far from these shores, visit, and celebrate the Eucharist with the troops who sacrifice themselves for our freedom and values. They appreciate the time and effort expended to confirm them in their faith. During these visits the expressions of gratitude abound.

Indeed these valiant men and women bend under the weight of combat and the tension provoked by an elusive enemy. They are anxious about their future and they are far from their loved ones. The long and frequent deployments to the Middle East take their toll on everyone: military, families, and our long-suffering chaplains who care for our brothers and sisters both during the deployment and afterward.

There is no doubt that service in the Armed Forces of our country at this point in time has damaged family life. The pressures and the uncertainty affect everyone. The syndrome of post-traumatic stress (PTS) has become a national health issue for the troops, chaplains, and veterans. Alleviating the burden depends on the willingness of each one of us to guide the returning veteran to a haven of trust and welcome.

This particular archdiocese without territorial boundaries also looks back and remembers those who have served in previous wars and are now cared for in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics. In October, I met with almost one hundred VA chaplains who serve across the country. Their concerns are ours and providing for their pastoral care is another way that the Nation does not forget those who have generously served us in past conflicts and now in the current challenges. Thank you for all that you make possible.

How can you help in this process? First of all, continue to beg the Prince of Peace to end the time of the tramping boots and the garments rolled in blood, as the Holy Father prayed last Christmas at Midnight Mass. Then please invoke the loving Father for the healing of the victims of PTS. Furthermore, extend a welcoming hand to those in your community who are returning from deployment. You can make a difference for them and for their families. Finally, your financial support to the Archdiocese for the Military Services allows it to minister to the men and women in uniform and to support of the chaplains and their own process of healing.

There are still other concerns. The Archdiocese for the Military Services is actively planning for future ministry to its faithful. The 32 co-sponsored seminarians who are preparing themselves for the priesthood and military chaplaincy represent the best hope for that future. Your financial support allows the Archdiocese to meet half of their seminary expenses and to help the dynamic Director of Vocations seek even more workers for the harvest.

I boldly beg you to continue your support for this vast archdiocese. Christmas is the occasion when we remember the Gift of the Father to us. Each of us tries to respond by giving something we have received to those in need. Thanking you for your generosity to this Archdiocese in the past, I am also grateful for whatever help you can offer at the present time.

As I wish you abundant Christmas blessings, I thank you for your past generosity. Rest assured that you and your loved ones will be remembered in my prayers throughout the Christmas Season in the Middle East. May the Lord bless you with health and happiness throughout 2012!

With sentiments of gratitude, I remain


Sincerely in Christ,

(Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

P.S. Please support and pray for our brave troops and the chaplains who help them during their deployment and afterwards, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Christmas season. I pray that you will help this Archdiocese to continue to provide all of its programs of spiritual pastoral care.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Everyday martyrdom

We admire the martyrs' heroism and desire it for ourselves.

There is a living death through suffering, even of the consequences of our own sins, by which we can realize each moment a heroism which God offers us though different from that of the bloody martyrs.

The resolution is put into action when the will actively anticipates and chooses to acknowledge the continued consequences of sin which arise through the memory, the imagination or the changed attitudes or reactions on the part of those wounded by our sins. One's past deficiencies of respect for the dignity of oneself and others though still potent in memory is rejected. One thus freely wills this very beautiful way to meet the Lord each day by living these moments in a manner similar to the way in which a martyr watches the bullets approach for a split second before closing his eyes on this world for the last time, his transit thus hastened to behold and adore the face of God.

Also that staunch, unflinching love which manifests itself in daily forgiveness in the face of the unremitting attacks of the incomprehending, the vengeful, the bitter, the jealous is a martyrdom which indeed experiences most acutely the pain of these bullets but refuses to respond in kind, allowing the burning love of God which is grace to melt them into fuel for the increase of the power of the burning charity of the heart aflame with the divine Presence which is love.

Through this grace the faithful heart achieves a union, a participation in the burning furnace of Divine love which is fully and truly present in the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Why the change when what we had seemed to work just fine?" On the new English translation of holy Mass

I suspect this article may help some of our Catholic worshipers who are struggling to understand why the need for a different translation of the Mass into English when we already had one which we have been using for many years.


The Roman Rite of the Latin Church


By Father Anthony Marques - The Priest, 11/1/2011

"The Church’s current guidelines state that, for the Ordinary Form of Mass, the Latin text 'must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner' (Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Liturgiam Authenticam, No. 20). This applies not only to the words, but also to the unique style, word order, and sentence structure of Latin (Liturgiam Authenticam, No. 57). In short, when the Roman Rite is translated into English — or into any other vernacular language — its “Latiness” should shine through."

To read more of this article on the reasons behind the English translation of holy Mass, click here to visit Priest Magazine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

John L. Allen Jr. reviews new book, "Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy"

The perils of a 'part-time pope'
by John L Allen Jr on Dec. 16, 2011

* All Things Catholic

Marco Politi, to be sure, has a point of view. A veteran Italian journalist and commentator, mostly for the leftist La Repubblica, Politi's sympathies clearly run to the Catholic church's progressive wing. It thus may be tempting to see his critical new book on Benedict XVI, titled Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy, as the predictable grumbling of someone who just doesn't like what this pope stands for.

However understandable, that would be a mistake.

I've known Politi for two decades, covering Vatican happenings with him and reading his stuff. Whatever one makes of his big-picture perspective, he's an astute observer, and there's always something to learn from what he has to say. (Proof that Politi is taken seriously in the Vatican is that Gian Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, was among the panelists at a Nov. 16 presentation of the book in Rome -- even though Vian said he came as a "devil's advocate" to argue that the book "shouldn't be canonized.")

Politi's core thesis is expressed in the provocative assertion that Benedict XVI is a "part-time pope."

As Politi sees it, Benedict dips in to running the church or acting as a global leader only when circumstances require it. His passion, however, is focused on his private theological studies and his own writings.

"Joseph Ratzinger has revealed himself to be a fragile leader," Politi writes, "uncomfortable in the art of government, hesitant to confront the internal problems of the church, more sensitive to theology than geopolitics."

The result, according to Politi, is a "gap in governance".

Benedict, in Politi's eyes, has not articulated a clear vision for confronting the church's big-ticket challenges, such as the global priest shortage. So far, Politi asserts, the two most consequential reforms on Benedict's watch -- tighter norms on sex abuse and more transparent money management -- were "imposed by circumstances."

Perhaps most damaging, according to Politi, is that the geopolitical relevance of the Catholic church accumulated under John Paul II is in free-fall. For instance, he asserts that Benedict has had little incisive to say about the Arab Spring, arguably the most significant mutation of the global order since the collapse of Communism.

In the Vatican, Politi reports, there's a sense of frustration. He quotes a Vatican official who says that in the absence of monthly meetings of department heads, "everyone is running their own shop, without any reference to a common direction or a shared vision."

As a result, Politi writes, even after six and a half years of Benedict's papacy, "A priest, a journalist or a church historian can still be approached during a conversation and confronted with an apparently bizarre question: 'What's this pope like?'"

To be sure, there's much in Politi's analysis open to debate.

For the full text of Allen's review of Politi's book visit John L Allen Jr's blog "All Things Catholic"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Message from Archbishop Dolan

A Special Advent Message from Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan from St. Patrick's Cathedral on Vimeo.

President Nominates Catholic Air Force Chaplain Richard Erikson for Promotion




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12/09/2011
Photo cutline below
President Nominates Catholic Air Force Chaplain Richard Erikson for Promotion
Promotion from Colonel to Brigadier General awaits U.S. Senate confirmation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Air Force (USAF) Reserve announced this week that Father Richard M. Erikson, a USAF colonel and Catholic military chaplain, has been selected for promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. President Obama officially nominated Father Erikson for the promotion, and has submitted the nomination to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, expressed his congratulations to Father Erikson.
Archbishop Broglio said:
I am very pleased to learn about Father Erickson’s selection. His service to the Air Force Chaplaincy has always been greatly appreciated and I know that he will continue to offer excellent leadership to those he is now called to serve in this Reserve capacity. On behalf of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, I offer him heartfelt congratulations and the assurance of our prayers.”
Upon hearing of his nomination for promotion, Father Erikson said:
“I am deeply honored by this nomination and deeply grateful for Archbishop Broglio’s support and leadership over the years. I am looking forward to serving our troops, families and Chaplain Corps in this capacity.”
Father (Colonel) Erikson currently serves as the mobilization assistant to the Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He is principal advisor to the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for training, readiness and sourcing the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Corps. He assists in developing the Chaplain Corps Strategic Plan, Total Force Policy, and strategic planning objectives. He assists the mobilization assistant to the Chief of Chaplains in coordinating Air Force Reserve matters. Father Erikson serves as advisor to the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. He is a member of the Reserve Chaplain Corps Council and the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Development Team.
Father Erikson was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 10, 1982. He has served 29 years in the Air Force Reserve including seven years as an active duty chaplain. His previous assignment was an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) to the Command Chaplain, Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

In his civilian position, Father Erikson served five years as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston (2006-2011). He recently completed a sabbatical program at the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the North American College in Vatican City, Italy.
Father Erikson was ordained a Catholic priest on June 8, 1985. He is author of Late Have I Loved Thee: Stories of Religious Conversion and Commitment in Later Life (Paulist Press, 1995; St. Paul's Press, 1998). He is an avid lover of music and has compiled, produced and published liner notes in more than a dozen compact discs. He deployed to Balad, Iraq from July to September 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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Photo Cutline: Father (Colonel) Richard M. Erikson, USAF, nominated for promotion to Brigadier General.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Protest against 'blasphemous' play in Paris": Who decides who is "a fundamentalist Catholic"?

"Two men reported to have links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend while attempting to disable the theatre's security system."

Catholics protest against 'blasphemous' play in Paris
The Théâtre du Rond-Point's staging of Golgota Picnic is the latest target in a wave of demonstrations across France
    Protest against Golgota Picnic
    An earlier French protest against Golgota Picnic in November by fundamentalist Christians in Toulouse. Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP

    One of Paris's most prestigious theatres was being protected by riot police and guard-dog patrols on Thursday after it became the latest target in a wave of Catholic protests across France against so-called "blasphemous" plays.

    The head of the Théâtre du Rond-Point on the Champs-Elysées complained of death threats in the runup to Thursday's premiere of the play Golgota Picnic by the Madrid-based, Argentinian writer Rodrigo García. Two men reported to have links to fundamentalist Catholic groups were arrested at the weekend while attempting to disable the theatre's security system.

    Several Catholic groups have called for peaceful demonstrations, prayer-vigils and the laying down of white flowers outside the building every night the play is shown, while the archbishop of Paris will lead protest prayers against the play at Notre Dame Cathedral.

    The demonstrations over Golgota Picnic come after a rise in fundamentalist religious protest action against some of France's most high-profile theatres, including pelting the audience with eggs, letting off stinkbombs and the invasion of the stage of Paris's esteemed Théâtre de la Ville mid-performance by outraged Catholics carrying banners reading "Stop Christianophobia".

    Earlier this year, young French fundamentalist Catholics staged an unprecedented attack on a gallery in Avignon, slashing photographs including Piss Christ by the New York artist Andres Serrano. More peaceful Catholic protests outside theatres, including young people kneeling with wooden crosses outside venues from Lille to Toulouse, have led the French culture pages to question the rise in rightwing and nationalist feeling among hardline Christian groups.

    Paris remains sensitive about Christian demonstrations since the fire-bombing of a cinema showing Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Political commentators have speculated that some traditionalist Catholics in the demonstrations had broken off from the Front National after the leadership was taken over by Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter Marine.

    Golgota Picnic, which takes place on a stage strewn with burger buns, has several religious references including readings and a crucifixion scene. But Paris theatre critics said it was absurd to call it anti-Catholic or blasphemous and questioned whether its religious critics had actually seen it.

    Yet in a move that went further than the recent protests over Théâtre de la Ville's staging of On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God by the Italian Romeo Castellucci, Paris's archbishop, André Vingt-Trois, deemed Golgota Picnic, which he had not seen, "deliberately offensive" and said he would lead a protest prayer at Notre Dame.

    Jean-Michel Ribes, head of the Théâtre de Rond-Point, appealed for calm. He said: "The Théâtre du Rond-Point isn't an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish place." But he said the role of artists was to fight against "suffocating dogma". Theatregoers have been advised to arrive an hour early to get through the airport-style security before reaching their seats.

    Paris city hall's art supremos rushed to defend the theatre community against what it said was fundamentalists holding art to ransom, saying a "silent minority" of Catholics did not share the notion of making threats or stifling freedom of expression.

    Civitas, a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianise France, has called for a large, peaceful street demonstration "against Christianophobia" this weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jessica Stecklein in concert December 10 at Huntingtown MD

Join the Jesus the Divine Word

Parish Anniversary Celebration


Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus

December 10, 2011

featuring
Jessica Stecklein, soprano
(www.jessicastecklein.com)

6:15 p.m. Refreshments in Doran Hall
7:30 p.m. Christmas Concert in the Sanctuary
9:00 p.m. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament


Please join us as we celebrate the
anniversary of the official forming of
Jesus the Divine Word Catholic
Church community.
We invite all adults and young adults
(high school age and above) to
participate in this special event.

COST: Donation (To benefit the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará)

DRESS: Holiday/Festive

RSVPs are appreciated: Secretary@jesusdivineword.org or 410-414-8304 x10

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amalfi: Saint Andrew's Tomb

The Amalfi Coast


The relics of Saint Andrew are enshrined at the cathedral of Amalfi, richly endowed through the wealth of the former Maritime Republic which established this town as its seat.


Natural bridge formation is typical of the rocky coastline and the neighboring islands which include the most well-known, Capri.


Gothic lace carvings on the cathedral porch frame the views of Amalfi.


The fine pebble beach results from the work of water and waves over many years.


Hundreds of steps lead down from the road to Santa Croce beach. The reward of a swim in the clear water is worth the effort.

Photos by MCITL.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Raising Pure Teens": talking to your teen about chastity

Have a hard time connecting with your teenager about chastity? You could probably come up with a whole telephone-book-sized list of activities you’d rather be doing than talking to your teenagers about sex.

In today’s culture, though, who can afford to raise their children without the truth about human sexuality? With the “pornification” of everything from adolescent fashions to primetime television commercials, who can take a chance on withholding from kids the real score on human sexuality?

As your children’s primary educators, it’s your right and duty to make sure your children are forearmed and forewarned when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex in a Catholic way and resisting the secular world’s false vision of sexuality.

In "Raising Pure Teens", noted chastity speakers Jason Evert and Chris Stefanick incorporate the Church’s wisdom with 10 proven strategies for talking with teens about chastity. They offer a perfect blend of humor and sobriety, real-life stories and effective metaphors, cutting-edge science and undeniable logic.

Once you read "Raising Pure Teens", you’ll realize you’re not alone in bringing these beautiful truths to your teens—and you won’t be alone as you help them implement these teachings in their own lives Once you read Raising Pure Teens, you’ll realize you’re not alone in bringing these beautiful truths to your teens—and you won’t be alone as you help them implement these teachings in their own lives.

For more info and to purchase the book, click this link to visit Catholic.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When you tell me

When you tell me my Faith is a "religion" and put it in a bucket with everything else you deem similar I would be insulted if I didn't have Faith.

When you tell me "don't whip it out in public and start waving it around" I take it as a compliment because my Faith is supposed to be evident.

When you tell me to "stop trying to shove it down people's throats" that's a personal problem. I can't help you with that. God can, though.

But only if you have Faith.

((((..))))

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vatican to Take Legal Action against Benetton

A communique released today from the Vatican Secretariat of State indicates that the Vatican is pursing legal action to stop the promulgation of an offensive portrayal of Pope Benedict XVI in a global advertising campaign launched by Italian clothing giant, Benetton.


“The Secretariat of State has authorized its lawyers to initiate actions, in Italy and elsewhere, to prevent the circulation, via the mass media and in other ways, of a photomontage used in a Benetton advertising campaign in which the Holy Father appears in a way considered to be harmful, not only to the dignity of the Pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibility of believers,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The Benetton ad campaign, dubbed “Unhate,” features a montage of world leaders kissing each other. The pontiff is shown kissing Ahmed Mohamed el Tayeb, the imam of the al Azhar mosque in Eqypt, and President Barack Obama is shown kissing both Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as well as Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is depicted kissing Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

Even though Benetton agreed to pull the offensive photo, the Vatican wants to take legal steps to be sure the pope’s image is not used in this way again.

“We cannot but express a resolute protest at the entirely unacceptable use of a manipulated image of the Holy Father, used as part of a publicity campaign which has commercial ends,” said Holy See Press Office Director Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.

“It is a serious lack of respect for the Pope, an affront to the feelings of the faithful and an evident demonstration of how, in the field of advertising, the most elemental rules of respect for others can be broken in order to attract attention by provocation.

“The Secretariat of State is examining the steps that may be taken with the competent authorities in order to guarantee adequate protection for the figure of the Holy Father.”

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Pro-Life Saturdays: "Sexual Healing" and respect for life through chastity

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: Workers of the Vineyard

“Workers of the Vineyard” is a Diocesan Religious Congregation of consecrated Chaldean women of the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, USA, who have promised their gifts for dedicated service to Christ and his Church in order that they might grow in holiness by filling the needs of the Diocese and their community, as directed by the Eparchial Bishop.

Find out more about "Workers of the Vineyard" by clicking this link to visit their website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Religious Freedom: Statement from the Maryland Bishops



Bishops of Maryland Raise Concern over Erosion of Religious Freedom

In a joint statement released today, Maryland’s bishops call on Catholics and all Marylanders to reaffirm and uphold America’s First Freedom and the foundational principles upon which its democratic society is built. “Religious liberty – a right rooted in our human dignity and protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – is being silently and subtly eroded,” wrote the bishops of Maryland in the statement. “[I]n recent years there has been a subtle promotion of the idea that religious liberty should be restricted to Sunday morning worship.”

The Most Sacred of All Property: Religious Freedom and the People of Maryland is signed by Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Baltimore Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, and Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly. The statement was issued with input from a task force chaired by John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, that included experts in legal, theological, and historical issues.

“Religious liberty is the most important civil rights issue of our time. This thoughtful statement by the Maryland Catholic bishops is a reminder of the role it has played in our history, and of the continuing need to cherish and protect it,” noted Garvey. The statement will be distributed to Maryland’s nearly 280 Catholic parishes and other Catholic institutions, as well as to all of Maryland’s state and Congressional elected officials.

Click here to read the full statement by Maryland's Bishops.

Click here for an interactive PDF of Religious Freedom and the People of Maryland: A Statement from the Catholic Bishops of Maryland

Click here for a static PDF of Religious Freedom and the People of Maryland: A Statement from the Catholic Bishops of Maryland

Watch this accompanying video to the statement on religious freedom by Cardinal Wuerl.



Press Release for the Religious Freedom Statement

Read the press release for the new Religious Freedom Statement.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Archbishop Dolan: "Love for Jesus and his church must be the passion of our lives."

BISHOPS-DOLAN (UPDATED) Nov-14-2011 (570 words) With photos. xxxn

Reclaim truth about Jesus' church, Archbishop Dolan tells bishops

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on his fellow bishops Nov. 14 to communicate to the world that the sinfulness of the church's members is not "a reason to dismiss the church or her eternal truths, but to embrace her all the more."

In his first presidential address since election as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last November, Archbishop Dolan opened and closed with the words: "Love for Jesus and his church must be the passion of our lives."

Describing the church as a spiritual family that "to use the talk show vocabulary ... has some 'dysfunction,'" he said the bishops' "most pressing pastoral challenge today is to reclaim that truth, to restore the luster, the credibility, the beauty of the church."

But he cited "chilling statistics we cannot ignore" that "fewer and fewer of our beloved people -- to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith -- are convinced that Jesus and his church are one."

"So they drift from her, get mad at the church, grow lax, join another or just give it all up," Archbishop Dolan said. "If this does not cause us pastors to shudder, I do not know what will."

He also acknowledged the enthusiasm of "young people, new converts and recent arrivals" as well as "the wonderfully deep and radiant faith of Catholic immigrants who are still a most welcome -- while sadly harassed -- gift to the church and the land we love."

Shortly after he spoke, the USCCB issued a statement announcing that Archbishop Dolan had met privately with President Barack Obama at the White House Nov. 8.

The statement described the meeting as "very cordial" and said it "included discussion of pertinent moral concerns arising in foreign and domestic policy, issues of both agreement and disagreement."

"Both President Obama and Archbishop Dolan agreed that this was a private meeting, so no further details will be discussed," it added.

In his talk, the archbishop said "our world would often have us believe that culture is light years ahead of a languishing, moribund church."

But rather, "the church invites the world to a fresh original place, not a musty or outdated one," he said. "She dares the world ... to foster and protect the inviolable dignity of the human person and human life; ... to protect marriage and family; to embrace those suffering and struggling; to prefer service to selfishness; and never, ever to stifle the liberty to quench the deep-down thirst for the divine."

Archbishop Dolan urged the bishops to "resist the temptation to approach the church as merely a system of organizational energy and support that requires maintenance."

"The church we passionately love is hardly some cumbersome, outmoded club of sticklers, with a medieval bureaucracy, silly human rules on fancy letterhead, one more movement rife with squabbles, opinions and disagreement," he added.

"Our urgent task to reclaim 'love of Jesus and his church as the passion of our lives' summons us not into ourselves but to Our Lord," Archbishop Dolan said. "Jesus prefers prophets, not programs; saints, not solutions; conversion of hearts, not calls to action; prayer, not protests; 'Verbum Dei' rather than our verbiage."

But like Jesus on Calvary, the church has wounds, the archbishop said.

"Instead of running from them, or hiding them, or denying them, she may be best showing them, like he did that first Easter night," he said.

Read the text of Archbishop Dolan's inaugural address as president of the USCCB by clisking this link.
Photo: Archbishop Dolan addresses the bishops. (CNS//Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marriage: Unique for a Reason

Welcome to Marriage: Unique for a Reason!

What is marriage? Are a man and a woman really essential to marriage? What about the child … and the role of mothers and fathers? Is it discriminatory to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman? What impact does the redefinition of marriage have on religious liberty?
These are just a few of the many questions about marriage today. They all hinge upon the first question: What is marriage? When the answer to this question is understood, everything else falls into its proper place.

Marriage is unique for a reason. We invite you now to find out why:

Explore the four themes (and one in Spanish) at the top of this page

Brush up on the basics of marriage

Dive in deep to the Church’s teaching

Join the conversation about marriage, children, society, and more!

Ask us your burning questions about marriage

Order resources for your parish, class, or home (search for “Made for Each Other” or “Made for Life” as as Title, not a Keyword)


ABOUT THE ART
Saints Joachim and Anne are the father and mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the fruit of their marriage. By a singular grace of God in view of the merits of Jesus, she was preserved from all stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. Thus it is in the context of married life and conjugal love that Mary is prepared to receive the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the Logos, the “Reason” at the heart of all reason and truth, including the truth of marriage. The marriage between Joachim and Anne is a significant witness to why marriage is “unique for a reason.”



The Bishops have launched a new website to promote the truth about marriage called Marriage: Unique for a Reason.

Visit the site by clicking this link.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Blessed Veteran's Day

Dear Heavenly Father,

In every age, You call certain persons to defend the human family from oppression, tyranny, and evil. Since our founding as a nation "conceived in liberty," countless American men and women have stepped forward to defend our country and many others from aggressors, and to liberate those held captive.

Today we revere all our veterans: those who rest in honored glory, those who still suffer from the wounds of war, and those who, with us, enjoy the blessing of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O God, thank You for the selfless sacrifice of these veterans and of their families. Help us to remember them, to pray for them, and to care for them. Please bring all our departed veterans into Your Kingdom, and console their families with Your unfailing love. Please heal our wounded veterans through the power of Your Holy Spirit, and give to all our veterans the satisfaction of having served You even as they have served us.

Thank You for Your gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. May we fight to keep these rights available to all. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Photo of Army Veterans in Iraq by MCITL.

11/11/11 11:11

Eleven minutes after the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 2000 and eleven.

A moment in time filled with significance if filled with the fullness of God.

All times are the right time to pray.

((((..))))

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: The problem of priestly narcissism today

Messing with the Mass: The problem of priestly narcissism today

PAUL VITZ & DANIEL C. VITZ

It has been frequently noted that the mass since Vatican II has fallen victim to various kinds of irregularities.

Since Vatican II the Mass has fallen victim to various kinds of irregularities. This issue has been much discussed from various perspectives, but in this article we will examine a previously neglected aspect of the situation — namely, the psychological reasons why priests have introduced these changes. We will not deal with theological explanations for why the Mass has been subject to liturgical experimentation, nor will we discuss liturgical rationales for such innovations. Instead, we will focus on the psychology of the priest and those assisting at the liturgy — that is, on the psychological motives as distinct from theological and liturgical reasoning.

We propose that the primary motivation behind many of these changes derives from underlying narcissistic motives — that is, extreme self love — found in many people in contemporary culture. This is especially the case with the relatively small changes introduced in an idiosyncratic way into the Mass. We first summarize and describe the nature of this narcissism, then apply it to the situation found among priests.

American Narcissism

Beginning in the 1970’s, a number of major social critics noted and criticized this country’s increasingly narcissistic — that is, self-preoccupied — character. Tom Wolfe’s article “The Me Decade” opened this critique, and many others followed it. Perhaps the most extensive treatment was Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. The first book-length critique of American’s narcissism was written by one of the present authors (PCV), Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship (1977, 1994). Vitz explicitly addressed the basic anti-Christian (though not the anti-Catholic) significance of contemporary cultural narcissism. Robert Bellah and colleagues’ Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life in 1985 continued such critiques. We briefly summarize here key points made by these authors to allow their insights to be applied to the psychology of many American priests.

Lasch emphasized the decline of the “sense of historical time.” (p. 1) Narcissism as a mental framework is easier for individuals and societies when they are no longer connected to the past. It is the past that provides a framework for judging contemporary behavior as good or bad, as appropriate or inappropriate, as traditional or novel. The historical past, with its heroes and its lessons, is a person’s link to family and cultural traditions; it provides norms of behavior and moral strictures. Lasch makes it clear that as the past has faded from American consciousness, the capacity for narcissistic self-indulgence has grown substantially.

To read the rest of this article, please click this link.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cardinal Wuerl: The "First Freedom" - Religious Liberty

November 9, 2011

Dear Friends,

In the coming weeks, we will gather with our families and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday has its roots in the pursuit of a right our nation has cherished since its inception — a right so fundamental that it is known as the “First Freedom”— the freedom of religion. Today, through the Maryland Catholic Conference, which represents the Archdiocese of Washington as well as the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Wilmington, my brother bishops and I released a statement outlining increasing threats to this cherished right and highlighting the urgent need for all Marylanders to take steps to defend religious liberty.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Their arduous journey across the Atlantic in search of a place where they could freely practice their faith reminds us not only of the primacy of religious liberty in our country’s origins, but also of the deep need that we all have to follow our own conscience. When the Pilgrims sat down at the table with their new neighbors, they surely gave God great thanks that they had found such a home.

Unfortunately, not all settlers found the lasting religious liberty that they sought. Catholics were drawn especially to the haven of Maryland, where the Toleration Act of 1649 was the nation’s first law to protect an individual’s right to freedom of conscience. However, from the time the Church of England was made the official religion of the colony in 1692 until the American Revolution in 1776, Maryland Catholics found themselves increasingly oppressed. Churches were shuttered and Catholics were prohibited from holding public office. Our faith was banned from the public square.

Even here, then, the right to religious liberty must be vigilantly guarded if it is not to be lost. This Thanksgiving, a recent series of challenges to our freedom of religion have given us special cause to consider the lessons of the holiday and of the history of Catholicism in Maryland. At the local level, Catholic pregnancy resource centers offering material aid and emotional support to women in crisis have been singled out for increased regulation in both Montgomery County and Baltimore, for no other reason than that they are pro-life. Baltimore’s ordinance has since been ruled unconstitutional, and Montgomery County’s has also been largely overturned.

Local efforts to redefine marriage have made little allowance for those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. After the legalization of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia, the city government informed Catholic Charities that the organization would no longer be eligible to contract with the city to provide foster care and adoption services unless it agreed to place children with same-sex couples. Although Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill of 2010 was defeated in committee, as drafted it would have provided little protection to Catholic institutions and no exemption for individuals to observe their religious beliefs about the nature of marriage.

Nationally, the Department of Health and Human Services has drafted regulations that would require virtually all Catholic organizations to add coverage for sterilization and contraception, including the abortifacient drug Ella, to their employee health insurance plans. A social services program for victims of human trafficking run by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lost funding from HHS after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming it was unconstitutional for the program not to offer its clients referrals for abortions. Meanwhile, the Obama administration argued before the Supreme Court that the Court should eliminate a long-standing legal doctrine meant to keep civil courts from deciding religious questions that often arise during employment disputes between churches and their ministers.

Our Constitution’s First Amendment famously guarantees that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” However, this right to religious liberty exists not only in our nation’s civil law, but also in natural law, flowing from each person’s human dignity.

To know God and love Him is the essential purpose of our being. The freedom to seek the Lord, then — and the freedom to reject Him — is likewise central to what it means to be human. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, stated, “Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning, and purpose of the person are fully understood.”

History teaches us that the right to religious liberty is fragile. Remembering the extraordinary efforts of the Pilgrims to secure their freedom, let us always be thankful for ours, and may our prayers and deeds preserve it.

With prayerful best wishes, I am
Faithfully in Christ,
Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington


ON YOUTUBE: Cardinal Wuerl discusses the importance of the "First Freedom" - religious liberty.

Archdiocese of Washington

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Prayer on the Occasion of the 236th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps


This evenings’ Marine Corps Ball brings together an outstanding gathering of military men and women of the US Navy and Marine Corps, together with their spouses and guests, to enjoy one another’s company as we celebrate the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. That we may start this celebration well, we call upon Almighty God for the blessing of all present here that He may be glorified by all we say and do. With that in mind I offer the Marine Corps prayer:

“Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of thy presence and obedient to thy will.

“Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family. Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Make me considerate to those committed to my leadership. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.

“If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.

“Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.”

We pray for all of our deployed military and their families: all who stand guard this night over our freedom and security around the globe and those who wait for them at home.

We pray for all those missing in action or prisoners of war or conflict: may we never forget them or their service and sacrifice; we ask that You grant them the spiritual anchors of faith, hope and love.

And may we never look upon the symbol of our national spirit and ideals, the eagle flying high and proud, without recalling with gratitude all of those who have given the last full measure of the sacrifice of their lives for all of us. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord. May they, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Almighty God, keep us and all Marines ever faithful: Semper Fideles! And grant to the United State Marine Corps a very happy birthday and many more: ad multos annos, United States Marines!

Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Vindictive, bitter and childish: Vatican stunned by Irish embassy closure

This is the kind of vindictive, bitter and childish behavior one expects of a medieval fiefdom, not the modern-day Irish state which now relegates itself to the status of a religious, humanitarian and cultural backwater among Christian nations.
((((..))))

(Reuters) - Catholic Ireland's stunning decision to close its embassy to the Vatican is a huge blow to the Holy See's prestige and may be followed by other countries which feel the missions are too expensive, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

The closure brought relations between Ireland and the Vatican, once ironclad allies, to an all-time low following the row earlier this year over the Irish Church's handling of sex abuse cases and accusations that the Vatican had encouraged secrecy.

Ireland will now be the only major country of ancient Catholic tradition without an embassy to the Vatican.

"This is really bad for the Vatican because Ireland is the first big Catholic country to do this and because of what Catholicism means in Irish history," said a Vatican diplomatic source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

He said Ireland informed the Vatican shortly before the announcement was made on Thursday night.

Dublin's foreign ministry said the embassy was being closed because "it yields no economic return" and that relations would be continued with an ambassador in Dublin.

The source said the Vatican was "extremely irritated" by the wording equating diplomatic missions with economic return, particularly as the Vatican sees its diplomatic role as promoting human values.

Diplomats said the Irish move might sway others to follow suit to save money because double diplomatic presences in Rome are expensive.

It was the latest crack in relations that had been seen as rock solid until a few years ago.

DAMNING REPORT

In July, the Vatican took the highly unusual step of recalling its ambassador to Ireland after Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Holy See of obstructing investigations into sexual abuse by priests.

The Irish parliament passed a motion deploring the Vatican's role in "undermining child protection frameworks" following publication of a damning report on the diocese of Cloyne.

The Cloyne report said Irish clerics concealed from the authorities the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, after the Vatican disparaged Irish child protection guidelines in a letter to Irish bishops.

While Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore denied the embassy closure was linked to the row over sexual abuse, Rome-based diplomats said they believed it probably played a major role.

"All things being equal, I really doubt the mission to the Vatican would have been on the list to get the axe without the fallout from the sex abuse scandal," one ambassador to the Vatican said, on condition of anonymity.

Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, said he was profoundly disappointed by the decision and hoped the government would "revisit" it.

"This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries," Brady said in a statement.

The Vatican has been an internationally recognized sovereign city-state since 1929, when Italy compensated the Catholic Church for a vast area of central Italy known as the Papal States that was taken by the state at Italian unification in 1860.

It has diplomatic relations with 179 countries. About 80 have resident ambassadors and the rest are based in other European cities.

The Vatican guards its diplomatic independence fiercely and in the past has resisted moves by some countries to locate their envoys to the Holy See inside their embassies to Italy.

Dublin said it was closing its mission to the Vatican along with those in Iran and East Timor to help meet its fiscal goals under an EU-IMF bailout. The closures will save the government 1.25 million euros ($1.725 million) a year.

(Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins and Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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